New Jersey Sends 19 To Olympics
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — U.S. women’s soccer team captain and New Jersey native Christie Rampone is hoping to add another gold medal to her collection in her fourth Olympics this summer.
The 37-year-old Rampone, a defensive anchor for America’s powerhouse soccer team, is also the elder statesmen of the nineteen New Jersey men and women who will represent the U.S. in the London Olympics.
“It’s still an honor to play for your country, even though it’s the fourth time,” Rampone said on the “Today Show” recently.
Rampone is the first U.S. player to be named to four Olympic teams. She needs to play in one more game to set an American record for Olympic appearances. She shares the record of 16 appearances with four other players.
The Point Pleasant native won a silver medal in 2000 and collected Olympic golds in 2004 and 2008. She’ll play alongside three-time Olympian Heather O’Reilly of East Brunswick and two-time Olympians Tobin Heath of Basking Ridge and Carli Lloyd of Delran. Lloyd’s goal in extra time gave the United States the gold in 2008.
The Garden State will also send a three-time Olympian in sport shooting and a wrestling standout who’s favored to win gold.
Sport shooter Matt Emmons of Brown Mills will also bring veteran leadership to the Olympic squad, having won a gold medal in 2004 and a silver medal in 2008. Emmons, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and had his thyroid removed, showed exceptional accuracy as a pitcher for his high school baseball team in Pemberton, where he once threw a perfect game.
Other New Jersey natives representing the U.S. are Jordan Burroughs of Sicklerville, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion at the University of Nebraska who’s a favorite to win freestyle gold at 74 kilogram (163 pounds); Dagmara Wozniak of Avenel, who’s ranked 12th in the world in sabre fencing; and Michelle Vitesse of Cherry Hill, a member of the women’s field hockey team that took gold at the 2011 Pan American Games.
Princeton University is well-represented in the rowing events with eight graduates participating for the United States, Canada and Australia. A total of 14 Olympic rowers list Princeton or nearby areas as their current residence. Princeton is home to USRowing, the national governing body for rowing in the United States, and a national training center is based at the Princeton National Rowing Association.
Julie Culley, 30, of Lebanon.
A 2004 Rutgers University graduate, Culley will participate in the 5000-meter race in her first Olympics. She told the Express-Times of Easton, Pa., the Olympics are about doing her best and letting it all out there. “That’s how you best represent yourself, your family, your coach, your country, all of it,” she said.
Jeff Porter, 26, of Somerset.
A first-time Olympian, Porter will participate in the 110-meter hurdles. Porter’s wife, Tiffany, is also set to participate in the Olympics for Great Britain; she will compete in the 100 hurdles.
Asjha Jones, 31, of Piscataway.
A 6-foot-3 forward for the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA, Jones is headed to her first Olympics. She’s a two-time WNBA All-Star and won two NCAA championships with the University of Connecticut. Jones began playing basketball at the age of 3 and holds the records for rebounds and points scored at Piscataway Township High School.
Maya Lawrence, 31, of Teaneck.
A four-time member of the senior world championship team, Lawrence is headed to her first Olympics. She will compete in epee, the only fencing event in which the entire body is a valid target area. She won a gold medal in the 2012 Pan American Championships.
Dagmara Wozniak, 24, of Avenel.
Ranked second in the U.S in sabre fencing, Wozniak is going to her first Olympics after being an alternate in 2008. She’s a five-time member of the senior world championship team, and won a bronze medal as a member of the team at the 2012 world team championships.
Michelle Vittese, 22, of Cherry Hill.
A forward, the 2008 graduate of Camden Catholic High School is going to her first Olympics. Vittese won a gold medal in the 2011 Pan American Games. She told The Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Va., last month that the Olympics are “a big toss up.” ”Every team is capable of almost anything,” she said. “I think a realistic expectation is getting on the podium anywhere, from first to third. Anything would be incredible. Obviously, gold is everyone’s ultimate goal.”
Rachael Dawson, 26, of Berlin.
A midfielder/back, Dawson is going to her second Olympics. She grew up in Berlin and graduated from Eastern High School. She attended the University of North Carolina, and has been a member of the U.S. field hockey national team for more than 10 years.
Steven Gluckstein, 22, of Highlands.
A student at Rutgers University, Gluckstein will compete in trampoline. He is a three-time national champion, but missed the 2008 Summer Games after stumbling at the trials. He beat out his brother, Jeffrey, to represent the U.S. in the trampoline event.
Nick Delpopolo, 23, of Westfield.
Ranked 12th in the world in the 73 kilogram (161 pounds) weight class, Delpopolo is going to his first Olympics. He was also a 2010 member of the senior world championship team. According to NBC, he is dating five-time judo national champion Carrie Chandler, and they plan to open a training center in the future.
Steve Kasprzyk, 30, of Cinnaminson.
Participating in the men’s eight event, Kasprzyk is going to his first Olympics. He’s a three-time national team member, and won gold in the men’s eight event at the 2011 Pan American Games.
Matt Emmons, 31, of Brown Mills.
Participating in his third Olympics, Emmons won a gold medal in 2004 and a silver medal in 2008. He is married to another Olympic sport shooter, Katerina Emmons, who won medals for the Czech Republic in 2004 and 2008. Emmons once pitched a perfect game for his high school baseball team in Pemberton, N.J.
Tobin Heath, 24, of Basking Ridge.
A midfielder, Heath is a two-time Olympian. She won a gold medal in 2008. Heath was born in Morristown and attended the University of North Carolina. She’s considered one of the national team’s most skilled and crafty players, according to the team’s website. Heath plays for the New York Fury in the Women’s Premier Soccer League.
Carli Lloyd, 29, of Delran.
An attacking midfielder, Lloyd is a two-time Olympian. She won a gold medal in 2008. She was born in Marlton, and attended Rutgers University. Lloyd said on a recent episode of the “Today Show” that she hopes there are more memories to come at this Olympics. “It was a fabulous feeling standing on that podium and we want to do it again this summer in London,” she said.
Heather O’Reilly, 27, of East Brunswick.
A midfielder, O’Reilly is a three-time Olympian. She won gold medals in 2004 and 2008. She was born in New Brunswick and attended the University of North Carolina. O’Reilly noted the team’s confidence on the “Today Show.” ”We’ll have nerves, of course, going into it, but we feel prepared, we feel confident and we’ve seen it before,” she said.
Christie Rampone, 37, of Point Pleasant.
A central defender, Rampone is a four-time Olympian and captain of the team. She won gold medals in 2004 and 2008, and a silver medal in 2000. She attended Monmouth University.
Connor Jaeger, 21, of Fair Haven.
Jaeger will compete in the 1,500-meter freestyle race in his first Olympics. He was one of the top swimmers in the Shore Conference when he graduated in 2010, and was named an All-American during his recently-completed sophomore year at the University of Michigan.
Rebecca Soni, 25, of Plainsboro.
Soni will compete in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke in her second Olympics. She also competed in the 2008 Summer Games, winning a gold medal and two silvers. “I’m definitely excited about the Olympics,” Soni told NJTV. “Beijing was four years ago and it was a great experience. It’s been a long four years of waiting.”
Christina McHale, 20, of Englewood Cliffs.
McHale, who’s steadily climbed the world singles rankings since 2007, is participating in her first Olympics. In June of 2011, she won her first International Tennis Federation singles title, and also that year defeated then top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki. She’s been ranked as high as No. 29 in the world in singles.
Jordan Burroughs, 24, of Sicklerville.
Burroughs is a favorite to win a gold medal in his first Olympics. He is a 2011 World Champion, a 2011 U.S. World Team Trials champion, a 2011 U.S. Open champion and a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Nebraska. He wrestles in the 74 kilograms weight class. He won the 2011 Dan Hodge trophy, and was named outstanding wrestler at the 2008 Big 12 championships. Burroughs’ Twitter handle is @alliseeisgold, and at the top of his profile page it reads “Wrestle…Win…Repeat.”
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)